With the support of the Open Society Foundations, the Ukrainian Institute opened a representative office in France

The Ukrainian Institute, an institution of cultural diplomacy under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, has opened a representative office in France. The establishment of this representative office was supported by the Open Society Foundation, of which the International Renaissance Foundation is a part. The Foundation also provided for the arrival of the Institute’s team to Paris.

The opening ceremony was attended by First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, Secretary of State for European Affairs of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Laurence Boon, Minister of Culture of France Rima Malak, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Emine Dzhaparova, Director General of the Ukrainian Institute Volodymyr Sheiko, President of the French Institute Eva Nguyen Bin, Deputy Mayor of Paris for Culture Carine Roland, and President of the Association of the Ukrainian Institute in France Iryna Dmytryshyn.

“If you ask many Europeans now what they know about Ukraine not from the news, but from the cultural sphere, from books, from our classic artists and writers, it will probably be a difficult question. It’s a shame that the world is only starting to learn more about Ukrainian culture and our contribution to the world culture because of the Russian attack. But it is good that it is learning. Because our culture proves that we exist, have always existed, and will always exist. No matter how much the empire wants to re-appropriate us,” said First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska.

The opening of the Ukrainian Institute’s representative office in France is a testament to the strategic importance of cultural cooperation between the two countries. France has always been an important partner of Ukraine, particularly in the context of national security and European integration. However, the French know little about Ukrainian culture and history, perceiving it through the prism of Russian interpretation.

“By opening its representative office in Paris, the Ukrainian Institute demonstrates the special importance of cultural ties between France and Ukraine. We fully support the key role it will play in building resilient societies, especially in difficult times,” said Alexander Soros, Chairman of the Board of the Open Society Foundations. “Efforts to rebuild Ukraine must also include arts and culture to preserve its heritage and ensure a sustainable presence at the heart of the European cultural landscape.

In March 2022, a group of Ukrainian volunteers launched the cultural project Printemps Ukrainien (French for “Ukrainian Spring”) in France, which sought to introduce Ukrainian culture to the French audience. The result was 96 cultural events that brought together more than 40,000 visitors. The project was initiated by Olga Sahaidak, representative of the Ukrainian Institute in France, in partnership with the Embassy of Ukraine in France, with the support of DOFA and USAID. In 2023, the project was transformed into a permanent institution – the Ukrainian Institute in France.

“The world’s unprecedented attention to Ukraine opens up new opportunities for cultural diplomacy between Ukraine and France. Mutual understanding, awareness and cooperation between the two cultures strengthens the European project and makes our societies more informed and resilient. To provide more opportunities for Ukrainian and international cultural figures, we are opening representative offices of the Ukrainian Institute in key partner countries in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies of Ukraine,” comments Volodymyr Sheiko, Director General of the Ukrainian Institute.

The mission of the Ukrainian Institute in France is to make Ukrainian culture recognizable, to create a demand for knowledge about it and demand for Ukrainian cultural products by presenting Ukrainian culture as a significant and integral part of European culture, to stimulate France’s active involvement in helping Ukrainian culture, restoring and restoring cultural heritage sites. The team of the Ukrainian Institute will work at La Gaîté Lyrique, a cultural platform in Paris that aims to respond to the cultural, social, democratic and climate emergency and invites people to move from ideas to action.

The Ukrainian Institute enjoys broad institutional support in France: the French Ministry of Culture, the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the French Institute, the French Embassy in Ukraine, the city of Paris and La Gaîté Lyrique have formed a circle of friends.

The opening event took place at the La Gaîté Lyrique cultural center and ended with a concert by Jamala, the Crimean Tatar singer performing the best samples of her concert program. The concert will be attended by heads of ministries and state institutions of France and Ukraine, donors, cultural figures of both countries, media and representatives of the diaspora. The opening ceremony was hosted by Elisabeth Kian, a well-known French journalist, TV presenter and the face of ARTE, a European public channel dedicated to culture.

The opening of the representative office in France was made possible thanks to the support of our partners: Open Society Foundations, International Renaissance Foundation, Ministry of Culture of France, Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, French Institute, City of Paris, La Gaîté Lyrique, as well as with the support of the Embassy of France in Ukraine, Embassy of Ukraine in France, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Institute in France will become the second foreign office of the Institute after the opening of the first one in March 2023 in Berlin, Germany.

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